Wednesday’s EU budget amendment

The EU wants the UK to increase our budget contribution from £9.3 Billion each year net to about £13.6 Billion a year net. That is a difference of £4.3 Billion, enough to off-set a good proportion of the austerity savings made since the General Election. At a time when local services are being cut in our constituencies and public sector salaries are falling, we believe it would be wrong to increase the amount we pay to the Euro system. Our amendment, therefore, seeks a real terms cut in our EU budget contribution. Without it, we will go into the next election having to defend less money for local services, yet more money for the Eurocrats. Yesterday, the Whips are believed to have had a meeting to decide which lines to use to try to dissuade colleagues from supporting the amendment. Our response to this misinformation is as follows: 1. THE WHIP SPIN: This amendment is backed by Labour and part of a deal with Labour: THE REALITY: This is a Conservative amendment, drafted by Conservative MPs, and reflects our constituents’ concerns about increasing the EU budget contribution at a time of public service cut backs. If even Ed Balls' Labour party now realises that we should not be increasing our EU budget contribution, it would be bizarre for the Conservatives, in coalition with the Lib Dems, to vote in favour of inflationary increases for the EU. If Labour vote the right way for the wrong reasons, and even they are unwilling to defend more money for Brussels, then we certainly shouldn’t. 2. THE WHIP SPIN: This amendment waters down our objections to a Financial Transaction Tax: THE REALITY: There is no reference to the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in the original motion, just a vague reference to “proposals for new taxes”. The Eurocrats want these “new taxes” in order to fund an increased budget. Without any increase in the budget, there would be no need to have an FTT to finance it. Far from undermining the case against the FTT, our motion negates the need for one. Moreover, we retain a veto over new taxation anyhow. 3. THE WHIP SPIN: The Commons cannot change anything. Even if this amendment is carried, it makes no difference; THE REALITY: As MPs, we exist first and foremost to approve spending. If officials in Whitehall have already made arrangements with Eurocrats to decide on a seven years

budget increase, and we can only rubber stamp it, all the more reason to refuse to rubber stamp it. Any settlement agreed by government will have to be sanctioned by Parliament through primary legislation for money to flow to the EU under it. If MPs do not want to vote through such primary legislation for inflationary increases in the EU budget through to 2020, then they need to say so now, rather than allow the government to sign up for something it may not be able to deliver. 4. THE WHIP SPIN: This amendment would mean the decision ended up being made by QMV: THE REALITY: We have been threatened that unless we agree to handing over the spending increase, the EU will simply force us to each year using QMV. “Pay up voluntarily - or we take the money off you”, seems to be the position. However, in the European Commission’s own words, failure to agree to their demands would “prevent new programmes”, meaning “no commitments for multi year spending after 2013”, and that “organisations benefiting from EU funds would face severe drawbacks”. There would, in other words, be less Eurocracy. Surely a reason to support the amendment?

5. THE WHIP SPIN: This amendment undermines the PM: THE REALITY: Not so. This amendment would strengthen his hand in dealing with Euro officials determined to extract real term budget increases. Voting for this motion shows that there is a bottom line in our dealings with Europe. Without a bottom line, we will never get a good deal. Agreeing a long-term EU budget deal requires unanimity among EU member states and primary legislation to implement in the UK. We get this change only once every 7 years and we cannot miss this opportunity.

On Wednesday, you have a clear choice:  Vote the way the Whips tell you, and approve an inflationary increase in the EU budget through to 2020, which will see the UK net annual contribution increase from £9.3 Billion to £13.6 Billion. Recognise that at a time of belt tightening and austerity, the right thing to do is reduce the EU budget too – and support our amendment.


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